On house sitting and baby sitting

It’s that time of the year again. Silly season! Where parties are plenty and there is a plethora of travel plans.

As the unemployed black sheep of the family, I usually get asked to help out here and there with house sitting and baby sitting.

At the end of every house sitting or baby sitting session, I always swear state “I’m never doing that again!”

While it’s fun, it’s also a lot of responsibility and a lot of work. Kids are hard work. You literally spend the entire day running around and cleaning up after them, it’s like a full time job and I applaud all mothers and nannies/house helps/maids/domestic workers out there.

To avoid any awkward situations, I’ve come up with a few ground rules that parents can benefit from in making their lives and mine the babysitter’s easier.

Parent’s must not LIE to the baby sitter. When we ask if the kids don’t eat anything, this is an opening. Take it! Use it! This is your chance to let us know whether they are fussy eaters, what their favourite food is, what tactics we can use to get them to eat etc. This is not the time to be shy and say no, they eat everything. And letting us know they are picky eaters 2 days into the babysitting gig is NOT ON! All it causes is frustration on both mine and the child’s part. I have dealt with babies that want you to “fix” a fruit after cutting it, I’ve dealt with babies that need to be coaxed into eating by offering dessert and/or pancakes for breakfast the next morning, I’ve dealt with babies that walk all over the house and I have to follow  them around and give a spoon of food every now. But that’s ok, because I’m patient. I can spend two hours coaxing the child to eat provided I knew beforehand what I was working with!

I am a babysitter. Not the house help. I will cook and feed the kids. I will bath them. Heck I will even do the dishes and clean up after the kids but I will not do their laundry. I will not do thorough cleaning. You know that spring cleaning that our Zimbabwean mums love to spring up on us! Yeah… that one. No… I won’t be doing any of that.  If you want these additional extras, we now have to talk money!

Unless you are 1 of my 4 siblings, I will move in and help with the kids for a maximum of 1 week. Siblings get more time. My role is to help you while you organise yourself and organise your lives! After that, you need to have sorted yourself out.

For house sitting gigs, please understand I will not be a slave to your house. Meaning I will leave the house. I will go and meet friends. I will go out. I have a life and I will live it but I will always sleep at home. And I will make sure doors are locked, windows are closed, bins are taken out and lights are switched on and off so you don’t need to worry about the general safety of your house.

Please leave your house in a decent manner. I will keep the house neat and tidy meaning I’ll clean up after myself and I might even spruce the place up just before you return home but if I feel you left too much of a mess in a certain room, best believe I will not step into that room or even attempt to get things in order.

If you are particular about how  a babysitter must take care of your kids during your absence, it helps if you leave a schedule with an indication of meal times, bath times, bed time routines etc. One of my sister in laws has a schedule and during the early days when I had to be home alone with my nephew, it helped to know what to feed him and when, when to schedule playtimes, when tv was allowed etc. I will try to stick to it as much as I can within reason.

Please book my services in advance. By the time  you book your flights, let me know your plans because I’ll also be making my own plans and gone are the days where I’ll be cancelling my own plans to accommodate yours.

So darling friends and family, before you ask me to take care of your place or your kids this festive season, please give the above guidelines some thought. It’s all peace and love!

DISCLAIMER: My baby sitting duties come free of charge. These duties are also only for family or really really REALLY close friends.


On babysitting woes…

It’s a weekend and the kids are home. I’m not a huge fan of kids being plonked in front of the TV the entire day. I think kids need fresh air and other activities to stimulate them other than TV. When the kids were younger, they used to watch about an hour of TV during the week, before supper and after supper just before bedtime. They were allowed to watch cartoons on the weekend only. They woke up earlier than everyone else so they had about 2 hours of cartoon watching before the rest of the house woke up and life began. Now, they know how to switch the TV on and off, change channels, pre-record shows etc so they tend to watch more TV but their mom has strict rules as to which shows they can watch. As a result, I have to come up with activities for the kids to do to keep them entertained. I would have taken them to the park and had a little picnic there but I’m yet to gain enough confidence to drive to the other side of town. For now I stick to the shops and the closest mall which is about 10 minutes away and I drive alone *just in case*

I’m feeling tired. I was drained by work when I took my leave. But being on leave has been no better. I’m feeling even more drained. Being a mummy is a full-time job and it’s HARD! I’m going to need a vacation after this “vacation” the way I’m feeling. It’s so bad it’s got me thinking I’m no longer going to have 4 kids (it used to be 8 but as my friends gently suggested, I’m about 6 years behind. I should have started a long time ago!). When the kids were younger, I would run around with them, sing to them, dance with them and do all those crazy auntie things. But now I’m just tired. I’m burnt out and I’m afraid I won’t be able to give my children all of me – which is what they deserve – 100%. I want to be able to run around with the kids and play with them but if taking care of my niece and nephew has made me feel inadequate in such a short space of time, I don’t see how I can have 4 kids. I was listening to a show on radio the other day and they were discussing what size families their listeners want. And the presenters raised a good point – while you may have the money to take care of 15 children, each one has a different personality and you need to be able to understand each child as an individual. I’m burnt out with 2 kids, I can’t imagine having 4 and not knowing my children or being there for them emotionally, spiritually.

But as a friend of mine suggested, you have one child at time so you get used to the idea of being a parent and take it from there.

And then moments like these happen! And my faith is renewed. My niece worked on this picture for a week at school. She said she wanted it to be perfect before she gave it to me. It’s a picture of me! 🙂